I like island vacations in all forms, from Manhattan, to tropical Boipeba in Brazil. But one of my favorite islands is Pender, part of the Gulf Islands of Canada.
Located between Vancouver Island and Vancouver, Pender is one of the most populated islands in the Strait of Georgia, but the term “populated” is relative. Sometimes you’ll see more deer than people as you drive around the island.
Accessible by ferry from Vancouver Island (Swartz Bay) or the city of Vancouver (Tswwassen), Pender is a great weekend getaway if you’re already visiting British Columbia. Biking, hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, and more are all possible here. Though, it’s pretty easy to just sit on a deck sipping wine and watching the ferries come in like I did. Sometimes you might spot pods of whales or eagles. And on clear days, you may see the Cascades to the east, and the Olympic Peninsula to the west from high points on the island like Mt. Norman.
Another fun island activity is disc golf–basically golf played with frisbee-like discs instead of balls and a pole for a target rather than a hole. This version is a lot more laid back than the serious style played in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. This form of disc golf involves sipping a beer or two while you play a round. Some people even “wear” the beer in a holster around their waists. The best part is that the empties are recycled, and that recycling money goes back into the upkeep of the disc golf grounds.
I’m fortunate enough to have a couple of great friends who have hosted me a few times here, but there are a few hotels, B&Bs, and camp sites if you make the trip. It’s possible even to just do a day trip, but it’s worth the overnight stay, if not just for the peace and quiet, then the hundreds of stars you’ll see when you scan the sky at night.